Surprising, successful week of winter sports action

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(Note: For the complete Waynflete-NYA boys’ basketball and McAuley-Thornton Academy and McAuley-South Portland girls’ basketball game stories, with additional photos and box scores, please visit theforecaster.net)

Not everything went according to plan last week, but was there was plenty of excitement win or lose for local teams. With every game taking on added importance as the season progresses, here’s a look at where things stand with less than a month remaining until the postseason fun commences.

Girls’ basketball

The biggest news last week easily came from Saco when the 56-game, three-year win streak of the three-time defending Class A state girls’ basketball champion McAuley Lions came to an end.

The Lions have certainly been tested more this winter than they’d been the last two years combined, but they found a way to win their first eight games. Last Tuesday, at a Thornton Academy team it hadn’t lost to this century and beat by 15 points back on Dec. 6, McAuley appeared home free when it led, 34-19, late in the third period, but the Golden Trojans roared back and took an eight-point lead. The Lions dug deep, showed their champion’s heart and went on top, 49-48, on two free throws from Ayla Tartre with 16.7 seconds left, but with just over a second to go, Thornton Academy’s Katie McCrum calmly made two foul shots and a last-ditch, three-quarter-court prayer was short and McAuley lost, 50-49.

“We let them get back in game,” said Olivia Dalphonse, who helped spark the Lions’ late comeback. “We started rushing shots. We tried to match what they were doing and it got out of hand.”

“My team showed a lot of guts taking the lead at the end, but all the credit to Thornton,” said McAuley coach Billy Goodman, who suffered his first loss in 53 games with the program. “They made shots. The bottom line was that they were disciplined and we weren’t. This one’s on me. I screwed up tonight. We had the big lead and I didn’t make sure we took good shots. We let them get back in the game. That’s my fault. We were up by 15 and we got careless with the ball. We have to do better.”

The Lions expected to bounce back with a vengeance Friday night when South Portland paid a visit, but McAuley couldn’t deliver an early knockout blow and found itself down, 20-13, late in the first half. The Lions roared back to lead, 21-20, at halftime, then held on for dear life down the stretch to prevail, 41-36, and improve to 9-1. Allie Clement (who led the team in scoring at Thornton Academy with 14 points) had a game-high 18 points versus the Red Riots, including a clutch late 3, but she (and everyone else involved with the program) wasn’t pleased afterwards.

“No one’s happy,” Clement said. “I know it’s a win, but no one should be happy after this game. We’re really struggling right now. We found a way to win, but that’s just how the game wound up.”

“South Portland brought it like every team does against us and they get all the credit,” Goodman said. “They were good. We can’t blow anybody out because we’re not shooting well and we’re not playing team basketball. I feel bad for the girls who work hard on defense because the offense is ruining everything. The only reason we were in the game was because of our defense. We’re not shooting well, we’re not passing well.”

McAuley (second to Thornton Academy in the Western Class A Heal Points standings) plays at Scarborough Tuesday and Sanford Friday before hosting Westbrook Monday afternoon.

“We’re taking a little break and we’ll try to figure out what we need to do to play to our potential,” said Dalphonse. “People think we don’t work hard and just use talent and go out and win every night, but we don’t think that. We work just as hard as anybody else. We want to prove that.”

“We have to forget about everything that’s happened and come back to practice and be ready to go,” Clement said. “For some reason we’re struggling. We can’t pinpoint one thing we’re doing, but we have to figure it out. We have to stay positive and try to find a way. If we play like this for playoffs, we won’t have a chance. We have to get it going so we can be at the Civic Center in March.”

Portland is hot on Thornton Academy and McAuley’s heels and began the week third in Western A at 9-1. The Bulldogs handled visiting Westbrook, 64-45 (Brianna Holdren led the way with 17 points), prevailed at Sanford, 55-52 (Elizabeth Donato had a team-high 15 points, while Cierra Burnham added 13), then beat visiting Biddeford, 47-27 (Gabby Wagabaza had 10 points). After playing at Bonny Eagle Monday, Portland hosts Deering Friday and goes to Scarborough Tuesday.

Cheverus improved to fifth at 7-3 after eking out a 42-40 win at Gorham (behind 20 points from sophomore standout Jess Willerson), nearly doubling up visiting Noble, 75-38 (Willerson again had 20), then knocking off visiting Sanford, 51-39 (behind 15 from Georgia Ford). The Stags were at Westbrook Tuesday, host South Portland Friday and welcome Biddeford in a makeup game Saturday.

Deering fell to 5-5 and ninth after falling at Windham (38-22) and beating host Massabesic (58-36). Mary Tadsse had eight points in the loss. Tasia Titherington led the way in the victory with 14 points, while Amanda Brett added 13. The Rams were home with Gorham Tuesday, go to Portland Friday and visit Sanford Tuesday of next week.

Defending Class C champion Waynflete saw its losing streak hit three games after a 43-41 home loss to Yarmouth Tuesday (Leigh Fernandez had 18 points), but the Flyers improved to 5-3 and seventh in the standings with a 53-28 victory at North Yarmouth Academy (Fernandez had 13 points and Julianna Harwood added 12). Waynflete was at defending Western B champion Lake Region Tuesday, hosts Poland Friday and goes to Buckfield Tuesday of next week.

Boys’ basketball

On the boys’ side, Portland entered its showdown at Bonny Eagle Tuesday sitting third behind Falmouth and the Scots in the Western A Heals. The Bulldogs stayed undefeated last week by beating host Westbrook (66-26), host Marshwood (48-44) and visiting Biddeford (58-32). Jayvon Pitts-Young had 14 points against the Blue Blazes. Matt Talbot’s 16 points and 13 from Steve Alex helped survive the Hawks. Pitts-Young had 18 in the win over the Tigers. Portland has a second showdown this week, at Deering Friday, then hosts Scarborough Tuesday.

Deering has quietly moved into the fourth spot at 8-2 after downing visiting Windham (78-37) and Massabesic (65-58) to extend its win streak to six. Against the Eagles, Ahmed Ali had 20 points and Patrick Lobor added 17. Ali had 21 versus the Mustangs. After going to Gorham Tuesday, the Rams host Portland Friday and welcome Sanford Tuesday of next week.

Cheverus has cooled off after a hot start. Last week, the Stags’ skid hit four games after losses to visiting Gorham (49-31), at Sanford (59-47) and at Thornton Academy (48-39). Noah Stebbins had 11 points and Manny Ismail 10 versus the Rams. Stebbins had 14 points against the Spartans and Austin Boudreau finished with 14 in the loss to the Golden Trojans. Cheverus (4-5 and fifth in the Heals) was at Noble Monday and hosted Westbrook Tuesday. The Stags are home against South Portland Friday.

In Western C, Waynflete suffered its first loss last Tuesday, 86-64, at Western B power Yarmouth, despite 30 points from standout Serge Nyirikamba. The Flyers bounced back by drubbing host A.R. Gould (83-22) and visiting NYA (75-35). Milo Belleau had 17 points against A.R. Gould. In the win over the Panthers, which featured a 24-0 first quarter run, Nyirikamba had 19 points, Harry Baker-Connick had nine points, nine rebounds, seven rebounds and three steals and Milo Belleau added 12 points on four 3-pointers as the Flyers improved to 8-1.

“We’re getting better at pushing it off the break,” Baker-Connick said. “When we push it, it’s easier for us to score.”

“This game, we came out and controlled the tempo the whole game,” said Nyirikamba. “Yarmouth taught us that on any given night, a team can beat us. I think it made us stay humble.”

“We’ve been trying to start better,” added Flyers coach Rich Henry. “You can talk about it and when you see the impact it has on the game, it’s easier for the kids to understand and apply it.”

The Flyers are now fourth in Western C. They hosted Lake Region Tuesday and go to Poland Friday before hosting Buckfield Tuesday of next week.

If we play with intensity like today, we’ll be in every game,” Belleau said. “Our offense and defense both run through transition. If we can get out and run, that controls our success. We know we can always play better.”

“Whatever seed we get, we’ll be happy with,” said Baker-Connick. “We want to get better every game. We got really far last year. To lose (the regional final) did not feel good. All the returning players know how that felt and we don’t want to feel that again.”

“Next week’s big for us,” Henry added. “January’s basically the basketball season. We’re more than halfway through. The kids know that.”

Boys’ hockey

Cheverus’ boys’ hockey team remains second behind Scarborough in the Western A Heals after settling for a 2-2 home tie versus Brunswick Saturday. The Stags (5-2-1) host Yarmouth Thursday then welcome Portland/Deering Saturday.

Portland/Deering was 2-4-1 and seventh in the region after a 7-1 loss at Falmouth Saturday. After playing a makeup game at Brunswick Monday, Portland/Deering goes to Cape Elizabeth Thursday, visits Cheverus Saturday and plays at Biddeford Monday of next week.

Girls’ hockey

The Waynflete/Cape Elizabeth co-op girls’ hockey team, Capeflete, began the week 5-6 and fourth in the West Region Heals (six teams make the playoffs). Capeflete hosted undefeated Scarborough, the reigning regional champion last Wednesday and shocked the Red Storm by taking a 2-0 lead, but Scarboough answered with five straight goals to win, 5-2.

“When we went up, 2-0, that’s when our emotions got a little too elevated,” Capeflete coach Bob Mills lamented. “We talked about playing with focus, but keeping our emotions in check. That’s a learning experience for us. We have to learn how to win and keep our emotions in check.”

Capeflete then lost at home to Falmouth, 8-2, before returning to the win column with a 6-1 home victory over York. Capeflete hosts Portland/Deering Wednesday and goes to York Saturday.

Cheverus is also in line for a trip to the playoffs. Last week, the Stags beat visiting Brunswick (5-1) and lost at home to Falmouth (4-0). Cheverus gets another crack at the visiting Yachtsmen Thursday, then goes to Biddeford Saturday.

Portland/Deering began the week 0-11 and eighth in the region after losses to visiting Gorham/Bonny Eagle (9-0) and host Biddeford (6-1). Portland/Deering goes to Capeflete Wednesday and visits York Monday.

Indoor track

The SMAA regular schedule resumes Saturday when Cheverus and Portland compete against Biddeford, South Portland and Thornton Academy, while Deering meets Bonny Eagle, Gorham, Marshwood and Westbrook and McAuley competes against Massabesic, Noble, Scarborough and Windham.

Swimming

Cheverus’ defending Class A state champion boys’ swim team downed visiting Scarborough last weekend, 94-68, while the girls also prevailed, 102-68. The Stags host McAuley and Windham Friday.

Deering’s girls are coming off a 111-54 win at McAuley. The Rams swim at Falmouth Thursday and go to Greely Friday. The Lions are at Cheverus.

Portland’s boys handled visiting Bonny Eagle, 103-66, while the girls prevailed, 82-71. The Bulldogs go to Biddeford Friday

Waynflete’s girls lost to Kennebunk, 85-74, while the boys fell to the Rams, 88-73. The Flyers host Falmouth Friday.

Skiing

Cheverus girls were fourth in a six-team SMAA Alpine slalom ski meet last week. The Stags were led individually by Elizabeth Fossett (seventh, with a two-run combined time of 2 minutes, 4.76 seconds) and Hanna Sonesson (eighth, 2:05.37). The Cheverus boys didn’t score as a team, but Schuyler Black was fourth (1:39.69).

City teams took part in a Nordic skate race at Twin Brook last Wednesday. Portland’s Ben Allen won the boys’ meet in 18 minutes, 5 seconds. Teammate Brad Ravanelle was fourth (19:13). Waynflete was led by Aidan Olney (sixth, 19 minutes, 23 seconds). In the girls’ race, Portland’s Laura Frank came in fourth (22:39). Deering’s Ewa Varney placed seventh (23:19). Waynflete was paced by Marijke Rowse (10th, 24:06).

Wrestling

Deering’s wrestling team lost to Massabesic (71-6) and Noble (69-6) last week. The Rams host rival Portland Wednesday.

Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at mhoffer@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @foresports.

Sidebar Elements


Waynflete senior Henry Cleaves goes up for a shot during the Flyers’ 75-35 home win over NYA Saturday.

McAuley senior Olivia Smith floats a shot over a South Portland defender during the Lions’ narrow 41-36 home win Friday night. The victory came three days after McAuley’s first loss in 57 games.

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Sports Editor of The Forecaster since 2001. Find detailed game stories at theforecaster.net. I tweet prodigiously at @foresports.